Writings on Physics and Philosophy

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As they disappear, others are built following the same patterns, carrying on the characteristics of each. When in the course of evolution the stage of thought and reason has been reached, the human mind acts as a mirror reflecting the glory of God The previous quotation thus states that evolution is not an arbitrary process, but the gradual expression of spirit in matter. This early heat was a result of the extremely high quantities of electromagnetic radiation that existed at this time and which influenced sub-atomic particles to move around enormously fast.

It was thus in the truest sense a result of " the interaction between the active force i. When the early universe later cooled down and further expanded, this heat gradually decreased. This made it possible for sub-atomic particles, that had only existed individually before, to create the first hydrogen and helium atoms, which then, billions of years later, formed clouds of gas that, due to the force of gravity, gradually become denser and denser, thus reaching the state of fluids and finally becoming solid matter.

Know that the first tokens that emanated from the pre-existent Cause in the worlds of creation are the four elements: fire, air, water and earth The two natures in those elements temperature and moisture could have a number of different meanings: Temperature together with density, pressure and some other factors distinguishes the physical state matter is in. If solid matter is gradually heated up, it first melts to become a liquid, then evaporates to form a gas and in the end is transformed into a radiant plasma in which no complete atoms, but only ions and free electrons, can exist.

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Therefore, temperature is definitely a "pillar", that is a distinguishing factor for the physical state of matter. Moisture, on the other hand, is extremely important for biological processes and is therefore a "pillar" for all organic matter. Then it is evident that in the beginning matter was one, and that one matter appeared in different aspects in each element. Thus various forms were produced, and these various aspects as they were produced became permanent, and each element was specialized.

But this permanence was not definite, and did not attain realization and perfect existence until after a very long time. Then these elements became composed, and organized and combined in infinite forms; or rather from the composition and combination of these elements innumerable beings appeared Some Answered Questions And furthermore:. Then it is clear that original matter, which is in the embryonic state, and the mingled and composed elements which were its earliest forms, gradually grew and developed during many ages and cycles, passing from one shape and form to another, until they appeared in this perfection, this system, this organization and this establishment, through the supreme wisdom of God The idea that this ether could in any way be a medium through which spirit can exert an influence on matter contradicted scientific theories at the time it was formulated, because in the deterministic worldview of contemporary physicists the movement and development of all things, from the largest celestial bodies down to single atoms and even subatomic particles, was completely and fully determined by the laws of physics i.

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Newton's laws of mechanics. These laws seemed to dominate nature so completely and inescapably, that the idea of any kind of spirit that can influence matter or in other words anything like a free will, which might have enabled human beings to escape from the all encompassing law of cause and effect, would have been absurd. This worldview was, however, soon to experience its almost complete extinction. According to quantum mechanics, it is, as physicists found out in the s, not only electromagnetic radiation that has a dual nature consisting of both particles and waves, but this dualism is in fact a quality that can be found everywhere in nature.

Every single particle, every atom, molecule, complex atomic structure and biological organism and also every virtual particle and force field has such a twofold nature. However, the wave function that is associated with a particle is fundamentally different to any other known types of waves e.

It is a function that displays the information we can acquire about a certain particle by describing the probability of this particle having certain qualities such as velocity, position or spin. It can therefore tell us, for example, that the probability of one particular particle being found at a certain position x is five times higher than the probability of it being at position y. In a similar way it can also tell us something about the probability of the particle having a certain velocity.

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It cannot, however, give us any exact and unambiguous information about any of these qualities. If this uncertainty is not precise enough for us, we can of course make a measurement to find out the exact position of the particle for example, but in doing so, we inevitably cause the wave function of this particle to collapse because there is no probability of the particle being anywhere else any longer , and the result of this collapse will be that it will henceforth not be possible anymore to find out what the exact velocity of that particle was at the time its position was measured.

If on the other hand we want to measure the exact velocity of the particle, we will unavoidably loose the possibility of attaining any exact data about its current position. One might now want to argue that this difficulty in obtaining accurate data can only be due to a lack of more precise methods of measurement. Such an opinion was in fact held by many physicists, including Albert Einstein, in the early years of quantum physics, but it soon proved to be incorrect.

Many different experiments that have since been carried out clearly and unambiguously demonstrated that this indeterminist randomness is in fact an intrinsic part of nature. Regardless of how strange that might sound, a particle cannot simultaneously have both an exact position and an exact velocity Gell-Mann The more precisely the one is determined, the fuzzier the other one becomes. Quantum physicists nowadays believe that a particle in fact does not have any exact and determined features, but rather exists in a hybrid state of many different, more or less probable qualities as long as no measurement is made [23].

Some even go so far as to suggest that a wave function can only collapse if it is a conscious mind that observes or measures a quantum phenomenon and that therefore even the macroscopic apparatus used to make the measurement goes into some sort of quantum limbo until a human being actually looks at it.

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Whatever interpretation might turn out to be more accurate, it is clear that by making the decision to determine a particles position for example we take away the possibility of the particle having had a definite velocity at the time the measurement was made. We will still be able to make a statement about its most probable velocity, but there will no longer be a way of determining if this guess is correct.

It is this principle, called the Heisenberg uncertainty principle after its discoverer Werner Heisenberg that Paul Davis, professor of theoretical physics, is referring to when saying:. The fact that you can decide to create either an atom-at-a-place or an atom-with-a-speed confirms that, whatever its nature, your mind does, in a sense, reach into the physical world Davis By demonstrating the possibility of the existence of a mind over matter phenomenon in quantum physics, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle has thus, after centuries of deterministic thinking, made it scientifically justifiable again to speculate about ways in which spirit might be able to influence matter on a quite fundamental level.

It should be noted, however, that such phenomena have only very recently come under the scrutiny of reputable researchers and that the existing hypotheses about these matters are thus still of a rather speculative nature. The ideas and hypotheses summarized in the following sections are therefore not necessarily representative of the current thinking of a majority of scientists. We have seen above that the writings and utterances of the Central Figures of the Faith describe material forms e.

On a microscopic i. According to this principle, a single particle can even go through two slits in a barrier at the same time or simultaneously be at two totally different places as long as no measurement is made that forces it to adopt one of the two or more possibilities. On a macroscopic level this uncertainty becomes less and less important, the greater the quantity of particles that are involved. This is due to the fact that the probability of a large group of atoms collectively behaving in a way that is already very improbable for any single one of them is extremely low.

Nevertheless, quantum physics states, for example, that it is not absolutely impossible for an object of visible size to be found at a totally different place the next time someone looks at it, without anyone or anything having moved this object to its new position. The way in which such divine interference in the material world might take place is described thus by the physicist and mathematician Euan Squires.

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The first role is to make the 'choices' that are required whenever a measurement is made that selects from a quantum system one of the possible outcomes. Such a God would remove the indeterminacy from the world by taking upon himself those decisions that are not forced by the rules of physics. He would be very active in all aspects of the world, and would be totally omnipotent within the prescribed limits. It is interesting to note that this role might even permit 'miracles', if we were to regard these as events so highly unlikely that they would be effectively impossible without very specific, and unusual, 'divine' choice.

For example, according to quantum theory, there must be a small, but non-zero, probability that if I run into a wall, then I will pass right through it. The second possible role for a God to play in quantum theory is more relevant to our principal topic. God might be the conscious observer who is responsible for the reduction of wavefunctions. Whether, in addition, he also decides the outcome of his observations, as in the above paragraph, or whether this is left to chance is not important here.

What is important is the fact that God must be selective-he must not reduce all wavefunctions automatically Squires 66 f. The elegance of such an interpretation lies in the fact that it allows God to influence the material world without having to break the natural laws by which this world is governed. As outer circumstances are communicated to the soul by the eyes, ears, and brain of a man, so does the soul communicate its desires and purposes through the brain to the hands and tongue of the physical body, thereby expressing itself Paris Talks It interacts with the brain through a medium called "common faculty" Some Answered Questions This faculty, which seems to be identical with or at least related to the human mind, is a partly spiritual "pre-existent" and partly physical "contingent" entity that "is connected with the brain" and controls the functioning of the human body:.

The mind force—whether we call it pre-existent or contingent—doth direct and co-ordinate all the members of the human body, seeing to it that each part or member duly performeth its own special function Selections These powers of the soul are called inner perception Promulgation in contrast to outer or sense perception, the main faculty of the human body. Other aspects of this inner perception are the ability to dream, Promulgation self-consciousness Promulgation and free will. The human soul has therefore "two means of perception: One; sense perception is effected through instrumentality the other inner perception , independently" Promulgation This description of the relationship between the human body and soul [26] is remarkably similar to the picture drawn by the physiologist and Nobel Prize winner Sir John C.

Eccles who distinguishes between the outer sense of perception and the inner senses of thoughts, feelings, memories dreams imaginings and intentions which he describes as properties of the immaterial mind Eccles Largely basing his argumentation on Margenau's work The Miracle of Existence in which the latter proposes a description of the mind as "a field in the accepted physical term" or more precisely a quantum mechanical "probability field" 97 , Eccles suggests that some components of the human brain might act as quantum-based receptors that can communicate information from the mind to the brain and from there to the rest of the human body.

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The structures he suggests for this role are certain synapses i. The firing of a nerve cell can be induced at these synapses by the release of neurotransmitters, which travel across the synapse from one nerve cell to the other, from tiny vesicles that form a presynaptic vesicular grid at the surface of a synapse. As the vesicles at these synapses are already in apposition for exocytosis release of transmitters and all it takes to trigger such an event is the displacement of 10 g of vesicular membrane, such an event would be "within the range of quantum mechanics and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle" A mental activity such as thinking would, according to this model, "do no more than select for exocytosis a vesicle already in apposition", and the combination of a larger number of such quantum mechanical events could then lead to the firing of a nerve thus communicating an immaterial mental impulse to the brain and nervous system.

Another scientist engaged in research of this kind is Sir Roger Penrose, one of the worlds leading physicists and mathematicians. His hypotheses are similar to those of Eccles in that he also describes a process in which quantum phenomena might induce the firing of nerve cells, but differ from the former ones in regards to the physiological configurations proposed to fulfil this role. The structures, which he suggests to serve as such quantum-based receptors to the human consciousness, are the so-called microtubules, tiny tubes filled with vicinal, i.

In these structures, Penrose states, quantum-entangled or coherent phenomena many particles being entangled in such a way that they behave like one single particle with only one collective quantum state might occur that could cause nerve cells to fire as a result of purely spiritual activities of human consciousness, that is activities of the human soul:. On the view that I am tentatively putting forward, consciousness would be some manifestation of this quantum-entangled internal cytoskeletal state and of its involvement in the interplay between quantum and classical levels of activity.

The computer-like classically interconnected system of neurons would be continually influenced by this cytoskeletal activity, as the manifestation of whatever it is that we refer to as 'free will'. The role of neurons, in this picture, is perhaps more like a magnifying device in which the smaller-scale cytoskeletal action is transferred to something which can influence other organs of the body-such as muscles. Accordingly, the neuron level of description that provides the currently fashionable picture of the brain and mind is a mere shadow of the deeper level of cytoskeletal action-and it is this deeper level where we must seek the physical basis of mind!

Penrose Both of these models therefore propose an interaction between immaterial mental activities and the human brain and nervous system based on the theories of quantum mechanics, especially that of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. Much more solid scientific research is probably necessary to develop more complete theories and for some kind of consensus to form among scientists regarding these phenomena.

The fact that preliminary models such as the two described above have already been formulated by reputable and world-renowned scientists, however, demonstrates that a fundamental shift of consciousness in regards to such topics is already starting to take place within the scientific world.

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Quantum mechanics has in this way made a big step towards the reconciliation of science and religion, "the two wings upon which man's intelligence can soar into the heights, with which the human soul can progress" Paris Talks Instead, They had to make use of and sometimes redefine already existing concepts and terms e. On a superficial level, this might give the impression that the Central Figures of the Faith did not actually formulate any new ideas about physical reality. When we study Their Writings more closely, however, we come to realise that this only seems to be the case because Their references to such topics were purposefully made in such a way that they would neither offend Their addressees who believed in certain erroneous contemporary scientific concepts, nor make use of a terminology that had not yet been developed by contemporary scientists.

Works Cited.

Alan Sokal

Laura Clifford Barney. Trust, Edited by Horace Holley. Shoghi Effendi. Revisioning the Sacred. Vol Eccles, John C. London ; New York : Routledge, Rowohlt Taschenbuch, London : Abacus, Margenau, Henry: The Miracle of Existence. Treasure" a Provisional Translation ". Shoghi Effendi: letter to an individual believer dated 18 February Hanser, In other words, the speed of light is independent of the movement of its source and the respective observer.

You can never catch up with a ray of light and even when moving towards the source of light at an extremely high speed you would still measure the speed of the oncoming ray of light as being exactly the same as if you were not moving at all. This realization that the speed of light, independent of the system of observation inertial system , is always constant , If matter and antimatter collide, they destroy each other releasing huge quantities of energy. Introduction [PDF]. Though Weyl certainly made important contributions to mathematics and physics, this collection gives a broader picture of his work and thinking.

Including many previously unpublished works and photographs, Mind and Nature presents what Weyl saw as the connections between mathematics, physics, and metaphysics. A selection of philosophical writings from the period , it is beautifully edited with an introduction and scholarly endnotes by Peter Pesic. Mind and Nature includes several treasures. What a pleasure, what a privilege, to read and contemplate Hermann Weyl's monumental achievements.

Writings on Physics and Philosophy

Rarely are we given insights into the thinking of great mathematicians of the past. Even more rarely are we given their thinking presented with such thought and obvious care. This book should produce a reflective response among the teachers of mathematics who read it. More importantly, they still have much to offer the philosophically minded physicist and mathematician. One must be content with dipping into these essays and relishing their fecundity and insight. He pondered at length on the philosophical implications of his work and he expressed himself with clarity and style both in his native German and subsequently in his adopted English.

Bringing together all his general writing is an immense service to the English-reading public. But to know him only through his science is to miss the soul of a seeker. For Weyl, the experienced world in all its aspects was an inexhaustible source of wonder and inspiration. Here you can share in the life adventure of a beautiful mind.

These pieces shed light on aspects of his thought that are still only partially understood and that have not gained sufficient attention, especially in the English-speaking world, including his engagement with Heidegger, his exploration of the relations between mind and nature, and his attempt to create a kind of natural philosophy.